2000trees 2015 preview: Still keeping it real

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2000trees crowd

2000trees crowd

I hate what festivals have come to stand for, and I know that I’m not alone in such cynicism. I’m not going along with the rule of the likes of Reading, as I’ve done so before year by year, because it feels masochistic. I’ve turned my back and gone for what encapsulates all that I believe a festival should be about. And that is 2000 Trees.

For those not in the know, Trees is Gloucestershire’s premier insurgent summer outing; founded upon a group of friends dissatisfaction with repetitive and unimaginative line-ups, corporate sponsorships and excessively expensive food and drink. It’s a level-headed grassroots movement that strives to avoid all the pit falls of its big name competitors.

The music

Over the last eight years Trees has played host to British Sea Power, Band of Skulls and Blood Red Shoes (just to name a few). While I’m not particularly excited by this year’s headliners Deaf Havana and Alkaline Trio, the line-up showcases a diverse range of over 80 acts across its 4 stages. This includes the best of underground alternative rock, indie and acoustic bands up and down the bill, such as Pulled Apart by Horses, We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad.

It’s Frank Turner’s favourite festival for a reason, after leading its maiden voyage and having made numerous appearances ever since. This is a festival without the pretence. Trees aren’t tied to any particular scene, or as Turner aptly put it, a “musical cul-de-sac”. While its big name competitors entertain the same old rotating rosters circling the drain, Trees accommodates a huge scope of distinctly different stuff that you just won’t find anywhere else. This subversive nature is where its originality lies, and so that Trees aspires to be bold.

The bottom line

Trees, like it’s younger sister ArcTanGent, is a festival that is unashamedly “all about the music”. There’s no-nonsense, no-frills and no strings attached, so you won’t find much else to distract you from the line-up. While everyone else gets caught up in pretence and boutique bullshit, Trees sticks to its roots. Music is what makes festivals in the first place, and it’s line-ups that sell tickets, so why no stick to what you’re supposed to do best? That is of course, excluding those like Wilderness and BoomTown and such though I guess.

For anyone else like me (a student with a part-time, zero-hours contract job paying minimum wage) it’s hard to stomach forking out around the ball park of £200 on a ticket. Let alone taking in to account the cost of travel, food and everything else on top of that. As ticket prices for the big names have spiralled beyond reason, while the real value of what you get for your money has apparently declined, they’ve become increasingly difficult to justify. So that’s where Trees comes in, as at only £72 for a weekend ticket, it’s exceptionally good value for money considering the top notch quality and quantity of the acts on offer.

This pragmatic value-minded attitude is about more than just music though, as it reaches right down its core and the nuts and bolts of the whole affair. The organisers are conscious of what festival goers want, and they cater for that, such as their open BYOB policy for example. The absence of an arena area and the need to smuggle in your tins past the guards, inevitably saves their fans an awful lot of money. But besides that, they still manage to provide booze on offer at the bars tends to be proper, locally sourced stuff at reasonable prices. It’s an environmentally friendly event and even the toilets are award winningly clean.

Conclusion

From its modest beginnings as the brainchild of a bunch of amateurs, Trees has evolved into a champion of independent festivals on the flipside of the mainstream. It’s become a flagship (or rather a lifeboat) for us disgruntled punters who share its founders sickness of the same old stagnant offerings year in year out at an extortionate cost. You can call it whatever you like, but it’s impossible to deny that there’s a growing backlash amongst festivalgoers against the heavyweights that the success of subversive festivals like Trees perfectly demonstrates.

This year I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

The 9th incarnation of 2000 Trees will be taking place at Upcote Farm near Cheltenham between the 9-11th of July. For tickets and more information see our 2000trees guide.

Watch the 2000 Trees Festival 2015 line-up announcement: